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Curator of Diptera's blog

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I am sitting at my desk recovering from my first day back in the ‘office’…..my head is thumping. I have had a nasty cold the last two days of my hols (which were fab as I went sailing in Cornwall!) and I was a tad worried that I had the dreaded SF…but as of 6.30 this morning it seemed ok! 

 

So where do I begin? I think I will start at the last bit of fieldwork that I undertook with another colleague Kim. We headed down south to lovely Somerset. It was sooo nice. We went down on the Monday having arranged to see five farms and one animal park over the course of three days.  My friend from Bath Spa University had arranged for us to use their freezers, which although were not minus eighty meant that the dry ice that we kept the dead specimens on would last the distance. 

 

The first farm was a goat farm – it was great. 100s of them (i think 800 to be precise) just staring at us, bleating away with their funny little giblet things dangling from their throats (no idea what they are all about). Then we went onto a cow farm that had a massive outside brush which the cows could use as a type of car wash – brilliant. Both very successful placed for mosquitoes and the second had a house that I would love to live in .

 

Day two and brilliant sunshine and we were off to the animal farm. I love these places and so do the mosquitoes . In with the pigs, the llamas, the sheep, the donkeys- just everywhere!! We caused much amusement to the holiday makers and the very charming owners' son spent the morning with us…a nice bonus! After lunch we went on to another cow herd. Not as many mossis here but the cows were very friendly. The guy that I had contacted was the owners' son and he had forgotten to mention it to his father. We got accosted by a rather confused gentlemen wondering what on earth we were doing wandering round his yard with suction machines strapped to our backs. 

 

The final day we went to a lovely little farm that had cottages to let (beautiful next to a river, hares in the field). We did not find any in the cow sheds. the problem with modern day farming methods is that they are so very clean!! But we did find some males along the river so that was good. The afternoon was at a rather enthusiastic females farm who wanted us to remove every single fly. She was being plagued by house flies but they were the wrong sort of fly for us! But we found some and some larvae and so were very pleased to have a 6/6 success  

 

We drove back to the museum on Thursday. We stopped at a service station on the way back and Kim bought one of those teddies that was in Ice age (the one with the nut..never seen them sorry). We were getting back into the car when a wasp followed us in. You would have been impressed by the professionalism of two museum entomologists. Kim pelted it from the car taking her new teddy with her and I was laughing so much I couldn’t get the wasp out of the car…people just stared at our incompetence..  but we made it back in time for the friends and family event for the opening of the cocoon in the Darwin Centre.

 

Finally saw the game that I helped with and am completely embarrased about myself…how many years will this exhibit be for? I am praying for some minor electrical fault..Apart from that it is looking good. Each time we see it more things are completed. Not long now before the official opening. Not that we Dipterists will be in the building yet as our collection does not move till October. 

 

Then on Friday, Saturday and Sunday I gave 7 talks……I was numb by the end of it…The first five were for our corporate sponsors. I talked to mainly children about venomous and poisonous arthropods..and I think either managed to scare them into never leaving their homes again or creating monsters that their parents will hate after they have poisoned a sibling by making them eating ladybirds (apparently there was a friend of the department who could speciate ladybirds by licking them as they have a unique taste). Still, maybe there will be a few that will start looking around them at the smaller more important things in life.

 

The Sunday talks were about my work in the department. I just get to talk about me collecting and killing which is what most people focus on. Oh and how do I identify and sex them….it is tough talking genitalia to a mixed aged audience.  I needed my holiday.  And then today. I arrived, the Tajikistanis arrived.  And we headed down to Kent to look for mosquito larvae. Which was successful. They turned up however with no wellies, no rain coat and the translator was in stilettos! Oh well, I have taken undergraduate students out in worse! It was a fab British summer day as well, one minute lovely sunshine and then the clouds would open lots of squeals as everyone pegged it to the minibus….It was interesting that they had said that they had all done this sampling before and knew all the procedures and then once in the field they seemed to have forgotten everything (again reminding me of undergraduates). But we got larvae and quite a few of several different species. They are now in the tower of the museum hopefully growing into adults (and then we kill and pin them!)  however my day was not complete until I smacked the hired minibus into the scaffolding of the freezers in the back car park…most annoying and I am blaming it on the blue car parked really close…  I have no idea how the next three weeks will be as this is only day two of their visit. I think that I may be tunrning to vodka…